After graduating college, a friend of mine was offered two jobs. Both with good pay, in great locations, doing what he loved.
After making an extensive pros and cons list for each and praying about the decision, he still wasn’t sure how to move forward. “How do I know what God wants me to do?” he asked. “What if I choose the wrong thing?”
Whether it’s in our career path, church or even relationships, we have all felt that paralyzing fear of not knowing what our next step should be. Faced with several different paths, we find ourselves sitting in the roundabout, contemplating the roads but too scared to actually turn down any of them.
Psychologists refer to those who are reluctant to make decisions for fear they may be wrong as “maximizers.” Maximizers are characterized as those who restlessly examine all of their options and exhaustively weigh out the pros and cons. Odds are, you have a little maximizer in you, especially if you’re a twentysomething.
According to Susan Berg, a Ph.D. and self-proclaimed twentysomethings expert, “the staggering array of choices before them causes many twentysomethings to be immobilized by indecision. They may be afraid to take smaller, progressive steps or any action at all that may not directly lead to their lofty goals. Their parents have told them they can do anything, have anything, be anything, but if they can’t get their right away, many falter.”
We feel pulled toward greatness but overwhelmed by our options, so we become immobilized by indecision. For those of us struggling with this kind of crippling indecision, the question becomes: What do we do about it?
Augustine said, “Love God and do what you want,” which may be tantamount to, “You love God? Then do something. For heaven’s sake, just do something.” When we find ourselves immobilized by indecision, it would serve us well to recognize the value of simply doing something.
It reminds me of the survival shows all over television these days. The hosts’ advice is always the same. Do something. Whether collecting wood and trying to start a fire or searching for food and clean drinking water, they always advise the survivor to stay active. This is a principle that would certainly benefit indecisive twentysomethings.
In our younger years, we didn’t struggle with this kind crippling indecision. We simply said “yes” or “no” to things — although more often than not it was probably “yes.” As kids, we were discovering the world every day, and as a result, we radiated enthusiasm. To borrow from G.K. Chesterton, we still had “the appetite on infancy.” According to Chesterton, God still has this appetite, but we “have sinned and grown old.” We used to hold the bugs in our hands. We used to put blades of grass into our mouths and chew like cattle. Why? Because the appetite of infancy demanded it.
Maybe God wants us to regain some of the spontaneity that accompanies infancy. Maybe He want us to go out and do something impulsive, even if it means getting in over our heads. Better to live impulsively with the love of God than to live immobilized by the fear of making the wrong decision.
In Acts 3, Peter heals a man who had been lame from birth. The lame man was begging for money but Peter looked at him and said, “‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”
Peter was clearly in over his head in this story. He allowed himself to get into a situation that would have failed without God. Imagine if he had grabbed the lame man by the arm and lifted him up, only to let go and watch the still lame man fall back to the ground.
The tragedy is that many of us are so indecisive, had we been in Peter’s shoes we would have stood around debating with ourselves until the lame man was carried home at the end of the day.
Psalm 118:24 reads, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Take a minute and think about that statement. Really turn it over in your mind. God didn’t create the world, set it on autopilot and then walk away. He sets each day in motion. Borrowing again from G.K. Chesterton, it may even be that each morning God rises before the sun to make each and every daisy separately.
God goes to great lengths to set this stage, and you are here in the middle of it all. The odds of you being here right now, alive and breathing, are infinitely unlikely (1 in 400 trillion), but profoundly on purpose (Psalm 139:13). So rejoice. Be glad. And do something. You are a part of something carefully crafted, unspeakably wonderful and one of the worst things you could do is to do nothing at all.
Much has been said about the freedom Christ delivers to a person, and usually this freedom is expressed as a freedom from something. Freed from sin. Freed from selfishness. Freed from addiction. Freed from (fill in the blank). That’s all well and good, but it’s important we remember that this freedom isn’t synonymous with abstinence. You’ve got to do something with it.
Imagine if Robert Frost had written, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I paced between them.” It doesn’t possess the same charm, does it? Well, life loses some of its charm when we behave like wind-up toys walking into walls, waiting for God to pick us up and turn us around. So I say to you, twentysomethings with your hands in your pockets, love God and do what you want.
Sean Bess is a freelance writer living in Birmingham. He blogs at seanbess.tumblr.com. You can also find him on Twitter (@SeanBess).